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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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variations on creativity
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
I still have half a box of chocolates from Bethy. Mmm. Hazelnut cream chocolates. I so love her.

You know what I'm not doing?

I'm not reading the wednesday100. In fact, I am not even looking at it. I have REMOVED it from my primary reading list for the day, by God, after the blank shock of seeing sixteen--SIXTEEN--kick-me-in-the-heart drabbles and being unable NOT to read them.

Remember what I said that I'm getting MORE OTP as time goes on, instead of less? Yep. Remember all that mumbling I did about how by this time in fandom usually my fannish intensity usually dies down but apparently, Smallville's good for screwing with my patterns?

Can't do it. Just can't. Hundreds of one hundred word break-up drabbles? You're KIDDING me. No no no no no. Can't do it.

*grins merrily* Run along and destroy my OTP. I am here, in denial, mulling domestic bliss and trash day for my boys.

Okay, saying that with a straight face is funny.

martianhousecat last night held my hand through what is probably the second hardest story I've written. Long time ago, I said never again start writing without at least a vague idea of what I'm doing. Tabula rasa--no idea, no concept, just going with the words until they congeal like day old soup. It's freaksome. Here, I started with two things--one, Clark, two, Lucas, three, an alley. Everything else just developed.

Anyway. It's strange.

*****

Recs

[Unknown LJ tag] pleases us all yet again with another wonderful fic, Of Man's Desiring, a look at the complexities of Jonathan Kent. Wonderfully fair, beautifully written, and damned good. Highly recommended.

Cooking Considered As One of the Fine Arts by tstar78. Cookies! Wonderful Martha! Good characterizations all around, and watching Clark and Lex from Martha's point of view is wonderful.

*****

jenn rantingish

Not really so much that as this vague--confusion isn't the right word. It'd be more accurate to say bewilderment.

I do NOT get absolutes.

This could be a sad lack in my standards or something--I have so very few. Absolutes annoy me. Okay, a LOT of things annoy me, but anytime anyone says 'this is the way and the only way blah blah blah' I'm tempted to take the opposite view, and scarily, this happens even if I agree with them.

Yes, I really AM that contrary.

I'm not a natural rebel. I am all status quo. I am, in fact, the very opposite of a rebel. So this little streak of contrariness--which by the way, I had no idea I possessed until I spent quality time in fandom--really makes me wonder. I don't like to say I'd argue against something simply because someone phrased their statement the wrong way, even if I agree--but I think that might be moe true than I'm comfortable with.

Okay, we all have this reaction. Someone we don't like says something that we agree with in some discussion. Agree completely with. They have phrased it so that it will go down in history as the best possible answer to the situation ever. Songs will be written based on that answer, it's set in stone for the masses to admire. And dammit, it almost hurts when we have to say, so and so is right. Because, argh. Argh argh argh.

Right, so.

On one of my lists, I always--and this is literal--always get insta!defensive when someone makes a proclamation, and I want to take the opposite tack, even in the case of full out agreement. And it's not like I dislike these people--I admire most, have read several in fictional situations, and all are intelligent, articulate, and interesting. Some I actively like, actually.

But then comes The Proclamation On The Subject.

'This is the way and this is how it's done'. Every time, my teeth start getting grindy-like and I stare at the email and ask, okay, is it her phrasing that's peeving me or is it the content of the message? It's an interesting distinction. Phrase it as an absolute, and I'm instantly looking for any and all exceptions to break it down, even if experience and common sense tell me that the statement is true or should be.

*sighs* I'm never going to be a good debater.



The argument in this case was in creative process, which luckily, is something I actually do have a very different idea on.

I'm always a results kind of girl. Seriously, if you get your writing done standing on your head and asking your stuffed animals for feedback and you listen to their advice? If the story's good, I'll send the stuffed animals chocolate and encourage them to continue their good work. More power to the plush, I say.

I mean, I love hearing how people function as artists, writers, etc. The variation is huge and fascinating and sometimes so damn bizarre. I read biographies on authors I've liked hoping to find out how they do it, how they get from point a to point finished story. I've never bought the One True Way nonsense, because the very wiring of the human mind precludes One True Way anything. Seriously, as a race, we can't even be completely the same on what our dominant hand is going to be or how we like our coffee, so saying the creative process is supposed to be the same across the board is like saying everyone should be brunette to be human.

Okay, I dye my hair red regularly, so I resent those people, dammit!

Anyway.

Maybe it's the feeling of elitism that bothers me most. I don't grudge opinions so much as the idea that anyone considers their way the One True Way AND considers anyone's variation from that as less pure, less good, less likely to produce good fic/art/whatever, less in every sense. I am elitist as hell and I don't really try to hide that, but frankly, I don't drag that elitism into how the human mind functions. I feel lucky if I can figure out how my own brain works, so trying to judge how someone else's does? Riiight.

Though you know….

If I'm honest, part of this is me personalizing, since I've changed my process, and the comments seemed to imply I wasn't doing it right anymore and had lost some purity or quality in that change. You know, fighting for the poor, underappreciated person? I can do that. Fighting for myself? Oh hell, I'm all over it. *grins*

Sometimes. When I can pry myself away from getting the boys naked. What, you thought I wrote plot for art's sake? No no no, the plot is a covering to get the boys NAKED.

*grins*

Another part of it is--I guess I'd call it a certain level of frustration with the idea that good and great fic has to be this year's fanfic answer to Watership Down or War and Peace. Every so often I get my undies in a bunch after I read something extraordinary, thinking, okay, if I'm not going to be trying for this standard ALL THE TIME, why the fuck am I writing?

This leads to some really bizarre LJ entries and some whining on AIM to people who don't run when they see the signs. Just be prepared, it'll happen again. RivkaT's Ruat Caelum put me in a fit like that when I first read it.

But anyway, then I remember.

Fiction is the work of the author, because they have something to say. More or less. Whatever they have to say. And sometimes, they have things to say about Great Deep Thoughts and Great Moral Crises and Great Whatevers. And sometimes, they just want to say, look! They're having fun! They're petting puppies! Awww!

Fiction is, in its ideal form, the writer saying something and a connection being made with a reader. Plural readers, singular readers, stuffed animal readers. You get the drift. And sometimes, we all connect over Great Deep Thoughts.

And sometimes, we all connect on how fucking hot it is for Lex to tie Clark up and pour syrup all over him. Legalos. Enimem. Cheese puffs. Minesweep. Whatever you want to pour syrup on.

And I am SO good with that. No one can live on a diet of Great Thoughts alone. Because that is Very Very Boring. And wow, what do you watch on television?

And feedback--it isn't just you telling an author, I like this, and you are totally Hemingway and Tolstoy with some Catherine Coulter smut in to make it all good. It's saying, you got it right. The connection, however weird, fragile, strange, or blurred, was made, I got what you meant to say, and it worked, and sometimes, if you're lucky, that reader will tell you how it happened.

Which is why I thinking that saying "I am writing for feedback" isn't saying, "I write for praise, love, security, and a bandage to my shredded ego, love me dammit", though it can be. It's saying, "I'm wrote this, and I want to connect, and dammit, if it works? TELL ME. Because I want to know I got it right."

Because really, we're always writing to say something. Even if it's just "hi".


Mmm. Chocolate coffee.


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Oh, it's definitely the phrasing. THough in some cases, they're just wrong, wrong wrongity wrong-o as well content-wise. BUt usually, it's the phrasing, the "Well, that's just not how it's *done.* And if it isn't done how I like it done, it can't be any good" attitude that oozes out between the lines. In fact, I don't think it's even between the lines anymore, but right there, outright in some of the messages.

I keep hoping those people will learn to use "I" statements but they never do.

Oooh yes.

I've learned the art of autodelete the second I feel it starting, too. Just--cannot enjoy that as discussion.

*shrug* And no, it's often not between the lines either anymore. "I" statements would be lovely.


My apologies if I offended you. That wasn't my intention. I hope I made it clear why *I* don't post WiPs etc in LJs because I hate for anyone to see *my* writing process and I'm not personally comfortable with the idea. So I'm really sorry if I did offend you - that wasn't my intent at all. I just have a hard time sometimes communicating properly through email. I really meant *my* POV on why *I* don't do some things. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Somehow, Seema, I really doubt you're the one Jenn's talking about. At least, *I* wasn't annoyed by your posts. You don't tend to pronounce from on high.

More power to the plush.

I suspect this will make me giggle for a while. I may start saying, "Plush power!"

Also, I agree. Even (especially?) among professional writers, many of them use different ways of accessing their creativity.

Re: More power to the plush.

I suspect this will make me giggle for a while. I may start saying, "Plush power!"

Oh damn, now you're making me contemplate possible icons. Addictive suckers. *grins*

Also, I agree. Even (especially?) among professional writers, many of them use different ways of accessing their creativity.

The variation is so--amazing, seriously, that I can't imagine why anyone would WANT to have it done all the same way. That takes out so many variables that could be what MAKES a story work. *sighs* I'm sounding scarily dogmatic. Oh dear.

*laughing my ass off*

Another part of it is--I guess I'd call it a certain level of frustration with the idea that good and great fic has to be this year's fanfic answer to Watership Down or War and Peace. Every so often I get my undies in a bunch after I read something extraordinary, thinking, okay, if I'm not going to be trying for this standard ALL THE TIME, why the fuck am I writing?

Oh, jenn, I really do adore you. My own big personal conflict; and so nicely answered by: better to have never tried that to have tried and failed.

*grins*

I have that motto. It's possibly not the most inspiring motto, but well.

I don't know. I mean, from what I know of you and I, we have in common the um, chameleon factor? The I'll-be-who-you-want-me-to-be thing? The I'll-fufill-fantasies-you-didn't-even-know-you-had thing.

I don't know if you find yourself deliberately pushing reader buttons, but well for me as writer, it's all about manipulation. Which I regret, in that while I find it easy to write fic that pushes buttons, it feels somewhat cheap to manipulate a reader that way. I feel like, um, a writerly whore when I drag the awwwws out of people by being deliberately cute, or porny or writing a specific pairing (um, Clucasex anyone?).

*throws hands in the air*

When does the desire to be a good storyteller start interfering with the story?

And what do you do when it does? If you know your audience, and you can sense their reactions, do you play them up?

And also. Um. I have to say, yes, absolutes are annoying. But. People who won't accept the odd absolute? Even annoying-er. Take my mother, for instance:

Mum: But why can't we use this software forever?
Me: Because computers change, that software is eight years old and soon it'll be extremely hard to find a computer that will run it.
Mum: But why?
Me: Because progress isn't always backwards compatible.
Mum: But I don't understand why we can't keep this computers forever.
Me: Because computers don't last forever, and you can't get parts for them anymore.
Mum: But why would they break?
Me: Because everything breaks, eventually.
Mum: But I don't understand why they will break.
Me: Because *everything* breaks eventually.
Mum: But why?



I just adore you. *g*

don't know if you find yourself deliberately pushing reader buttons, but well for me as writer, it's all about manipulation. Which I regret, in that while I find it easy to write fic that pushes buttons, it feels somewhat cheap to manipulate a reader that way. I feel like, um, a writerly whore when I drag the awwwws out of people by being deliberately cute, or porny or writing a specific pairing (um, Clucasex anyone?).

*snickers*

I love that. Writerly whore. That needs to be an icon. I am so making it into one.

*throws hands in the air*

When does the desire to be a good storyteller start interfering with the story?


My views on that are changing very fast. I'm still not entirely sure how I stand on the continuum.

I think--and this could change as I think about it more--the storyteller should win.

It's--not quite a one eighty, but I'm beginning to question my own beliefs as a writer the more I interact with an audience, the more times I AM an audience. I write for myself, right, the story is mine, but that may be the only part that really is. The telling of it--if I'm going to tell it outside my own head--is pointless unless the audience understands it, unless it connects with them, unless I can translate it into a medium they understand, appreciate, etc. Otherwise, why tell it at all? But am I compromising my vision for the audience too much....but if they don't GET my vision, then maybe something is wrong with the vision....

And so the circle of weirdness continues. Look! Shiny!

Gah. See, no damned absolutes, so everything fluxes constantly. One day, I shall be wise and consistent. But well, not today. I don't think I'd have near as much fun if I was.

See? This is murky, murky territory for me, and I have a feeling this is one thing I'll never be sure of in myself either.

'This is the way and this is how it's done'. Every time, my teeth start getting grindy-like and I stare at the email and ask, okay, is it her phrasing that's peeving me or is it the content of the message? It's an interesting distinction. Phrase it as an absolute, and I'm instantly looking for any and all exceptions to break it down, even if experience and common sense tell me that the statement is true or should be.

Hehehe. Doesn't that suck? I find myself doing the auto-oppositional thing constantly, but I'm aware of it. So I try to compensate with extra fairness, give them far more benefit of the doubt than I'd give anyone else. I'll step back out of the argument, chew over the phrasing, debate it with myself out loud. Finally I just conclude I'm a petty, small person, or they suck, and let it go.

Whatever works, huh? :)

*giggles*

I like the 'they suck!' part.

But yes, I know that cycle. I usually end up biting my tongue and whistling softly until the urge passes.

since I'm Victoria's bitch and all, this is just for her *g*

*I* pride myself on being paradoxical. My current doctoral student (trained in philosophy) gets up on my for not having like *any* nailed down beliefs. *I* have certain nailed down beliefs, but probably not about the major stuff but things like committment and aquiesing, and about food not touching on my plate.

That's probably one reason *I* liked that line about beliefs and ideas so much in Dogma.

*I* only know what's going on in my head, or what *I'm* feeling, and even then it could all be one big crapshoot and I'm really in Bedlam sucking on a leather bit. *I* go by one little rule, "I always think that I'm right, but also reserve the right to be proven wrong."

Then again, I've been a lot happier since I learned to quit worrying and love the bomb. Errr, fandom(s). Process. Result. UST. Fruity Elf Porn. The Enablers. Whatever. *g*


AMEN!!!!!!

Or as my students say, "Word."

There is no one way to write. There. I think that's the only absolute I can live with. :)

Beth

Whee!

And a zen fen icon!

*grins* I can feel the good karma now....

My Two Cents - And Forgive Me if I Ramble

Maybe it's the feeling of elitism that bothers me most. I don't grudge opinions so much as the idea that anyone considers their way the One True Way AND considers anyone's variation from that as less pure, less good, less likely to produce good fic/art/whatever, less in every sense. I am elitist as hell and I don't really try to hide that, but frankly, I don't drag that elitism into how the human mind functions. I feel lucky if I can figure out how my own brain works, so trying to judge how someone else's does? Riiight.

I'll run away from the desire to ask you how you'd define "elitism" - at least, as you see it in yourself because I wouldn't define you as elitist at all. You're completely willing to embrace other viewpoints, other ways of doing things. IMHO, such knocks you out of the running. Unless I'm misunderstanding.

I know there *is* a strong bias against WIPs. I don't blame people who don't want to read them. Alas, it's the way I work. I'm aware I'm struggling against the bias on that front, and we won't even get into the bias (yes, I'm saying it) against plot. But plot's also the way I work. For a fanfic writer - no worse hell to which to consign oneself. [cue violins]I suffered, oh, how I suffered[/violins] because apparently, my Muse is a sadist. *g*

I've come to believe if fen would at least make the attempt to see things a little differently, they might expose themselves to that which they might otherwise miss. There's nothing wrong with learning, and there's learning to be experienced daily. Oh, and it's *fun* too.

There was a time when these things bothered me, days when you could actually hear me shouting "What is *wrong* with people?" Now? ::shrug::

Existing in fandom is where I need to be for the moment, and as long as I continue to grow from the experience, I'll remain. I'll write plotty fics like Ruby Truth, I'll write the goofy ficlets like All Hands when so moved.

The minute growth/fun ceases? Color me gone.

Re: My Two Cents - And Forgive Me if I Ramble

I know there *is* a strong bias against WIPs. I don't blame people who don't want to read them. Alas, it's the way I work. I'm aware I'm struggling against the bias on that front, and we won't even get into the bias (yes, I'm saying it) against plot. But plot's also the way I work. For a fanfic writer - no worse hell to which to consign oneself. [cue violins]I suffered, oh, how I suffered[/violins] because apparently, my Muse is a sadist. *g*

In SV, there is a slight bias against WiP, though in HP, I've noticed, they seem to be The Way to Go, or so HP fen have mentioned, though honestly, I don't know for sure. God knows there are a lot.

I've come to believe if fen would at least make the attempt to see things a little differently, they might expose themselves to that which they might otherwise miss. There's nothing wrong with learning, and there's learning to be experienced daily. Oh, and it's *fun* too.

There was a time when these things bothered me, days when you could actually hear me shouting "What is *wrong* with people?" Now? ::shrug::


You ever sit on your hands so you don't fire off an email you KNOW is going to be a bad idea?

In some ways, fen are the most flexible people in creation. In others, not so much--and this includes me, sometimes, because I still get thrown when someone does something that No One's Ever Done Before, so to speak. Hmm. It's an interesting contrast in some ways.

Existing in fandom is where I need to be for the moment, and as long as I continue to grow from the experience, I'll remain. I'll write plotty fics like Ruby Truth, I'll write the goofy ficlets like All Hands when so moved.

The minute growth/fun ceases? Color me gone.


*grins* Exactly. It IS fun. God, so much fun. Super neverending feast. *sighs happily* Watch me wax romantic on fandom. Very maudlin.

Thanks for commenting!


All Muses are creative sadists. *g* It's not art unless you suffer! Okay, that's my fine arts teacher talking. Annoying man. *shakes head*

And feedback--it isn't just you telling an author, I like this, and you are totally Hemingway and Tolstoy with some Catherine Coulter smut in to make it all good. It's saying, you got it right. The connection, however weird, fragile, strange, or blurred, was made, I got what you meant to say, and it worked, and sometimes, if you're lucky, that reader will tell you how it happened.

Sometimes, feedback is saying, wow - I don't get this. And here's why. Feedback isn't always about the warm and fuzzy. Sometimes, it's balanced, and constructively critical, too. I mention this only because there has come to be some sort of connotation to the word 'feedback' that it must be positive, or praise, and that's not necessarily true. Feedback is only a note to the author giving her a reaction. Even a flame can be feedback. *g*

Sometimes, feedback is saying, wow - I don't get this. And here's why. Feedback isn't always about the warm and fuzzy. Sometimes, it's balanced, and constructively critical, too. I mention this only because there has come to be some sort of connotation to the word 'feedback' that it must be positive, or praise, and that's not necessarily true. Feedback is only a note to the author giving her a reaction. Even a flame can be feedback. *g*

Mea culpa. *grins* Feedback is a way to either say "got it!" or "What on earth are you trying to DO?" or "You are evil and will go to hell for writing this." So to speak.

anytime anyone says 'this is the way and the only way blah blah blah' I'm tempted to take the opposite view, and scarily, this happens even if I agree with them.

Heh. The one sure-fire way to get me to do something is to tell me I absolutely can't. And if someone is looking for an argument, all they have to do is make a couple of sweeping, absolute statements and I'm rarin' to go.

I've never bought the One True Way nonsense, because the very wiring of the human mind precludes One True Way anything.

::nods:: Ask ten people what they think of something and you can end up with twelve different opinions. To expect all people to function in the same way dismisses the very qualities that make us unique.


Nothing to add but yes. And yes. And dear GOD yes.

*happy sigh*

Sorry, this is completely off topic - but is the beta-duty on Somewhere I Have Never Travelled completed? Are you re-working it, or just haven't posted it to the lists yet?

I just requested betas and am answering the emails now, so--I don't know how long it will take exactly. I may release Somewhere and its sequel simutaneously, since they'll hopefully be beta'ed together.

Fiction is the work of the author, because they have something to say. More or less. Whatever they have to say. And sometimes, they have things to say about Great Deep Thoughts and Great Moral Crises and Great Whatevers. And sometimes, they just want to say, look! They're having fun! They're petting puppies! Awww!

I just need to say this: this, what you said here, this is exactly what I needed to hear today. So, even though it is only the tiniest part of a Long and Thoughtful Post, I thank you for putting it out there.

*grins and skips away*

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